This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
YouHadMeAtJell-o’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
A difficult one to review objectively because just as I was leaving my building to go to see No Time to Die one of my flatmates told me, "Bond dies in it". So, yeah... I'm actually moving out soon for completely unrelated reasons but I am obviously going to tell him this is the reason why just to fuck with him.
Anyway, if you want the tl;dr version: needs more Ana de Armas. If you want to read my disjointed lengthy opinions, onwards!
Firstly, great direction from Cary Fukunaga. Sam Mendes is a tough act to follow, but the action in this is mostly top notch, especially in the superior first-half. The sequence in Italy, and then the whole Cuba bit is so much fun.
Daniel Craig has always brought an element of pathos and world-weariness to the character, and he continues in this form to great results again. You genuinely believe that he cares for Madeleine just as he did Vesper Lynd. Lashana Lynch is a nice addition even if her character didn't really make that much difference to the plot. Ben Whishaw is entertaining as always, and it's always lovely to see Jeffrey Wright. Billy Magnussen feels slightly out of place. Ralph Fiennes is a bit of a bore, doesn't hold a candle to Judi Dench's M, but we knew that already. Oh, there's Hugh Dennis!
Hans Zimmer is the don.
Billie Eilish is not.
Buuuuut now for the elephant in the room, and his name is Rami Malek, undeniably a fantastic actor, but given far too little to work with here. His motives for world domination are unclear and he doesn't carry that air of mystery that Christoph Waltz wields in Spectre (a film I think I enjoyed more than most when it was released). Malik's big bad seems to be wholly defined by his deformity (facial scars = evil is a tired old trope that needs to get in the bin already), a bland husk with a vague European accent. His connection and subsequent obsession with Madeleine feels paper thin and beside the point - the opening sequence is terrific but he doesn't seem to be at all bothered about her and her daughter escaping in the third act - and he's quite simply boring. Honestly, the writers here seem to think that a scarred face is enough to make him imposing here, and it's so disappointing to hamper an actor of Malek's calibre with such an underwhelming character when you know that, given strong material, he could be iconic in this series.
Which is all tremendously unforgivable when you consider the length of the film. At two-hours-and-forty-minutes, you need an antagonist who feels fully developed. But the writing team seems to think that a greatest hits tour that features everyone from Craig's previous outings is a better alternative.
Overall though I found it very entertaining. I struggled to be emotionally invested in the ending because the nature of the spoiler genuinely left me fuming and when that's stuck in your head you end up just waiting for his time to die through the third act instead of reacting to the turning points in the drama and action. Maybe when I see it again I can just get onboard for the ride and allow myself to feel the emotions.
It's not a perfect film, but Craig's run hasn't been perfect, yet it sure is entertaining, and even if the likes of Quantum of Solace might not be amazing I can honestly say I don't find a single one of these films boring. Daniel Craig's version of Bond is the only one I've ever cared about (I'm not that invested in the franchise). I'll miss him.